Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

Washington Post Recognizes Large Influence Contemplative Spirituality Has On American Christians

LTRP Note: The following news story is posted here for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the content. Interestingly, Washington Post wrote a similar story in 2008 titled “Feeling Renewed By Ancient Traditions.” In that story, they quoted briefly from one of the Lighthouse Trails editors (name spelled wrong) after a phone interview.

By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post

“Americans turning to ancient music, practices to experience their faith”

“[T]he rise in interest in early practices has become so common that at Wheaton College, the prominent evangelical school in Chicago, “the joke is, all these people are now liturgical.”

In our of-the-minute culture, Santa seems old-fashioned. But Christians are exploring far older ways of observing the holiday.In the living room this week along with the pile of presents, there’s more likely to be a wreath or calendar marking Advent, the month leading up to Christmas that symbolizes the waiting period before Jesus’s birth. Christmas services largely dominated by contemporary music are mixing in centuries-old chants and other a cappella sounds. Holiday sermons on topics such as prayer, meditation and finding a way to observe the Sabbath are becoming more common.

These early — some use the term “ancient” — spiritual practices are an effort to bring what feels to some like greater authenticity to perhaps the most thoroughly commercialized of religious holidays, say pastors, religious music experts and other worship-watchers.

“It’s the recognition that Christianity didn’t start when someone got an electric guitar,” said Ed Stetzer, a pastor and church consultant who runs Lifeway Research, a Christian polling firm. “I think particularly among younger Christians, they’re drawn to smells and bells and history in a way that boomers weren’t on the same level.” Click here to continue reading.

Behind the Peaceful Scenes of Christmas

By Berit Kjos
Kjos Ministries

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God…” John 1:12

Nothing about the birth of Jesus was normal. How can human logic explain the virgin birth, the precise fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and the angels’ joyful announcement to some poor shepherds? How can science explain the mysterious “star”[1] over Bethlehem that drew scholarly Magi from the East to a temporary “house” for a heavenly King? It doesn’t make earthly sense!

God’s ways continue to amaze me! The strangest and most inexplicable events are part of His wise, sovereign plan. And if I don’t understand, He doesn’t owe me an explanation. He just calls me to trust and follow Him.

That’s what the Magi [2] chose to do! God had obviously prepared their hearts. In their distant land, they were given “sight” to see the miraculous light hovering over the manger of Jesus! It may have taken them a year or more to reach their goal, but for those who serve Him, such timing is simply part of God’s plan. As David wrote in Psalm 31:15, “My times are in Your hand!”

So, who were those “wise men” or “Magi” from the East?

The Bible doesn’t give us specific answers, but their response to God’s guiding light demonstrates their faith in our God. And the gifts they chose for the precious King point to positions of wealth and influence.

They were probably among the elite scholars, astrologers and astronomers in the Parthian empire (247 BC – 224 AD). At the time, it included both Media and Persia. If that indeed was their home, the Magi might easily have studied the Old Testament prophecies. Jewish scribes and scholars had brought those treasured Scriptures to Babylon during the exile that followed Israel’s slide into idolatry about six centuries earlier.

By this time, the wisdom and goodness of God had already been demonstrated among His exiled people — through the lives of Ruth, Nehemiah, Daniel[3] and many others. Since Biblical records were treasured in those days, they would have been carefully preserved even through the turmoil of wars and changing national borders. Therefore, the God of Israel was no stranger to Persian scholars at the momentous time when Christ was born.

Today, most Christians know that God communicated His long-awaited news to the Magi in the East through a bright supernatural light that would lead them to a small town in the West. (In fact, they may have been the only people who saw it.[4]) What a joyful moment! God’s silent message had truly reached their hearts! Soon afterwards they began their journey to worship their King.

They may have traveled for a year or more, which explains why they found Jesus in a house, not in a manger. The challenges they faced when they neared their destination offer some clues to the dark forces that targeted God’s Son from the time of his birth. Click here to continue reading.

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